Most Alaskans, if they have ever heard of Government Peak, remember it vaguely as the focus of occasional dreams for a downhill ski area in the Mat Su Valley. But as those ambitions fade, this massive but gentle peak has begun to emerge as one of the finest mountain hikes around. With good drainage and a southern exposure, it's often the first trail to a high summit to be snow-free in the spring. The views north into the endless waves of the Talkeetnas, and south across the Knik River basin to the huge northern front of the Chugach Mountains, are unsurpassed.
2017 UPDATE: THERE HAS BEEN EXTENSIVE TRAIL WORK ON THIS PEAK. ALTHOUGH THE ROUTE DESCRIBED ON THIS PAGE CAN STILL BE DONE, THE PRIMARY ACCESS POINT FOR SUMMIT TRAILS IS NOW THE BRAND NEW NORDIC SKI CENTER AT THE TOP OF MOUNTAIN TRAILS DRIVE. THIS IS A SLIGHTLY HIGHER STARTING POINT THAN THE OLD TRAILHEAD. TO DOWNLOAD A TRAILS BROCHURE, GO HERE. THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED SOON TO REFLECT THE NEW OPTIONS.
From Palmer, take the Palmer-Fishhook Road as though you were heading for Hatcher Pass. At milepost 7.0, turn left onto Edgerton Parks Road. After about two miles this paved road makes a right angle bend to the right, then back to the left; at the right angle back to the left, proceed straight ahead onto Moose Lick Circle, signposted for Mountain Streams Bed and Breakfast. Follow this to the B&B. Behind the main house is the well-marked trailhead, with designated parking for several vehicles on the left.
This trailhead is on private land, provided courtesy of the Strabel family. Obviously, it's important to be courteous of them--parking with consideration, keeping the noise down, etc. Often, when you park, you'll see Ed Strabel doing some project or tending to his incredible woodpile. Say hi, and be thankful this pre-baby-boom gentleman will not be setting the pace for your hike. It takes him about an hour and ten minutes to reach the top.
There's a map of this trail at the bottom of this page. Begin at the arch behind the bed and breakfast. You're at 870 feet elevation, and you have 3911 to go. The first mile or so ascends gently, then a little more steeply, through open forest and meadow, with pretty views across the Mat-Su Valley.
There are three picnic tables along this hike. The first is in the gentle meadows. The second, at about one mile and a thousand feet above the start, is your warning that the hike is about to steepen dramatically, becoming about as steep as a trail can get. Another five hundred vertical feet brings you to a signed turnoff for a waterfall, where you'll find the third table:
After the waterfall junction, another five hundred feet of extremely steep trail brings you onto a wide-open tundra ridge, where the angle relents a bit:
The ridge continues upward for another couple of thousand feet:
It's a long way up this ridge to the summit, but persevere, because it is only at the very top that you'll get the full reward--the view northward across the vast wilderness of the Talkeetnas.
In winter, the Mat-Su Ski Club grooms 2.5 kilometers of track for classic and skate skiing, using the lower portion of the trail and nearby terrain. The trails are open only when the temperature is below freezing. They are occupied by high school ski teams on weekday afternoons. Call the B&B (907-745-4190) for more information on using the ski trails.
The upper part of the Government Peak Trail is usually not a good winter route due to avalanche danger.
Government Peak is class 2 from the lower part of the Hatcher Pass Road, as described here. This involves some bushwhacking, and doesn't benefit from the southern exposure and wide open views that favor an ascent of the new trail. The stream crossing near the road is never trivial and is just about impossible in high water.
A class 2 ridge walk to or from Hatcher Pass is possible (about 3 miles, with climbs totaling about 1500 feet northbound, 2500 southbound).
Alaska Mountain Runners organizes an annual race to summit in early June. It's an uphill-only race, finishing at the top.
Backpack camping is not really practical on this peak. Car camping is available on the east side of the peak (7 miles from the trailhead) at the Government Peak Campground.
Government Peak was called K'eda Beq'e Nay'uni by the Upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina.
Although the trailhead is on private land, most of Government Peak is on state and Mat-Su Borough land. It is designated year-round for non-motorized use.
This page has been posted with express permission of the private landowner at the trailhead.
Mountain Streams Bed and Breakfast certainly looks like a wonderful place to stay. It doesn't have a regualar website, but here they are on Facebook. It isn't always open. Call to inquire: 907-745-4190.